What Is a Blood and Bone Marrow Transplant?

Blood and bone marrow transplantation is a special therapy for patients with certain cancers or other marrow diseases. A blood and bone marrow transplant involves taking cells that are normally found in the bone marrow, processing those cells, and giving them back either to the patient or to another person. The goal of blood and bone marrow transplantation is to transfuse healthy bone marrow cells into a person after their own unhealthy bone marrow has been eliminated.

Blood and bone marrow transplantation has been used successfully to treat diseases such as leukemias, lymphomas, aplastic anemia, immune deficiency disorders, and some solid tumor cancers since 1968.

What is bone marrow?

Bone marrow is the soft, spongy tissue found inside bones. In order to perform a blood or marrow transplant, blood forming cells need to be collected. Blood forming cells are capable of generating all types of blood cells including white blood cells, platelets and red blood cells. The blood cells that produce other blood cells are needed in blood and bone marrow transplant.

Why is a blood and bone marrow transplant needed?

The goal of blood and bone marrow transplantation is to cure many diseases and types of cancer. When the doses of chemotherapy or radiation needed to cure a cancer are so high that a person's bone marrow will be permanently damaged or destroyed by the treatment, a blood and bone marrow transplant will be needed. Bone marrow transplants may also be needed if the bone marrow has been destroyed by a disease.

The risks and benefits of blood and bone marrow transplantation must be weighed in a thorough discussion with your doctor and specialists in blood and bone marrow transplantation prior to procedure.